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Prada Protests Sailing Race Requirement

The Luna Rossa team claims the new notices violate the Class Rule.

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CHOPPY WATERS: It’s been a choppy year for the 34th America’s Cup sailing contenders, with the capsize on May 9 of the Artemis Racing AC72 during a San Francisco Bay training session, which killed Artemis crew member Andrew “Bart” Simpson. Now, with a formal protest filed by Prada’s Luna Rossa team, the America’s Cup is still in troubled waters.

In the wake of the Artemis tragedy, America’s Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray met with the four competing teams — Oracle Team USA, Emirates Team New Zealand, Artemis Racing and Luna Rossa Challenge — and led a review of the events responsible for the boat’s capsize. On May 22, he presented 37 recommendations to increase safety for America’s Cup participants, and at the end of June, he issued regatta notices concerning the appropriate structure of rudders and rudder elevators.

On July 2, Prada’s Luna Rossa Challenge submitted a protest before the America’s Cup international jury, taking issue with Murray’s regatta notices 185 and 189 and claiming that he had “exceeded his jurisdiction and authority.” At the heart of the complaint, Luna Rossa contended that the notices were a violation of the Class Rule, which requires that changes mid-competition be approved by the unanimous consent of participants.

This move is “a clear attempt to make illegal our boat just days before the start of the race,” said a statement from the Luna Rossa team.

“Luna Rossa is indeed in favor of the introduction of new and more stringent safety regulations (it has approved 35 out of 37 recommendations of the regatta director), but the measures regarding rudders, rudder elevators as well as the increased displacement have nothing to do with safety,” but affect only speed and performance, the statement continued.

Prada’s team requested that its protest be heard ahead of the July 7 round robins, in which Luna Rossa Challenge will go up against Emirates Team New Zealand.